Indoor Track & Field

Griffins net first-ever ACAC podium sweep, but SAIT Trojans dominate opening day of Championship

Nikita Case, centre, leads teammates Valerie Schlottke (right) and Amanda Nitamoah (left) to the finish line in the women's 300-metre dash on Friday. It was a historic podium sweep - the first in ACAC indoor track history - for the Griffins (Robert Antoniuk photo).
Nikita Case, centre, leads teammates Valerie Schlottke (right) and Amanda Nitamoah (left) to the finish line in the women's 300-metre dash on Friday. It was a historic podium sweep - the first in ACAC indoor track history - for the Griffins (Robert Antoniuk photo).

Jefferson Hagen / MacEwan Athletics

EDMONTON – The MacEwan Griffins produced the first podium sweep in the history of Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference indoor track, but it was the SAIT Trojans who dominated the opening day of the ACAC Championship at the Kinsmen Field House on Friday night.

The Griffins' sprinting trio of Nikita Case, Valerie Schlottke and Amanda Ntiamoah went 1-2-3 in the final of the women's 300-metre dash. Case narrowly missed her own ACAC record in the event, finishing in 41.67, while Schlottke (42.05) and Ntiamoah (42.32) rounded out the podium.

"It means so much," said Schlottke. "We talked about this at the beginning of the season and the fact we're making history right away. All three of us on the podium is great.

"I knew Amanda coming out had a really strong start, same as Nikita, so I was just chasing them. That's what I was relying on the last little bit. Both of them ran really great races. I was really happy with our times."

That result vaulted the Griffins to the top of the women's team standings with 36 points as they bid to win the ACAC women's banner for the fourth time in five years. They will take a slim lead over SAIT into the second and final day of the Championship (Saturday, 8:30 a.m., Kinsmen Field House).

"Right now, we're only three points ahead of SAIT," said Griffins head coach Drew Carver. "This is going to be exciting tomorrow. Roxanne (Skoreyko) and Hannah (Leggatt) know what they're up against and Valerie and Nikita are kicking it out for the 600."

Skoreyko and Leggatt both finished well back of SAIT's double-gold medallist Ricki Christopher in the 3000m and then Leggatt – the 2017 ACAC women's track athlete of the year – lost to her in the 1000m, too.

Christopher was pleased with Day 1.

"I wasn't actually expecting that, so it was awesome to walk away with that today," said Christopher on claiming two golds that has her atop the women's individual standings.

"For my second one, it was definitely a mental battle," she added of the 1000. "You think you know your limits but you can always push past them. It's good to see when it happens."

Calgary-based SAIT also boasted another double gold medallist when Matthew Travaglini dominated both the men's 3000 (8:41.62, a new ACAC Championship record) and 1000 (2:31.27). He busted a four-year-old ACAC record in the latter.

"It was definitely one of the main focuses coming into the meet," said Travaglini, who leads the men's individual standings. "We've been working a lot on speed and just being able to dig deep and get over the mental barrier of just being in the hurt box for 300 metres.

"That was the goal of today and getting the record sort of shows that we did it."

SAIT also triumphed in the race of the night as Trojans sprinter Brent Stephen nipped MacEwan's Thomas Cross-Trush in a photo finish in the men's 300m dash (35.61 to 35.62). Both men broke the ACAC record.

"Personally, I'm very happy about it," said Cross-Trush. "It's always disappointing to lose out on the gold, especially when it's that close. But running the race I did, it's a huge improvement on what I've been running. I've been having a pretty lousy season, to be completely honest. I only had one personal record at the beginning of the year – the Golden Bear Open – so this is actually a really great race for me. I'm ecstatic. I'm really happy I ran this time."

Stephen won because he dipped more than Cross-Trush and paid the price physically for it. Afterwards, his shoulder was covered in painful road burn from hitting the deck.

"I came into the line and I was either dipping or I was losing," he said. "It was about the hardest dip I've ever had and it was hard to recover. I went straight to the ground and hit my face pretty hard."

After the opening day of the championship, the SAIT men's team has a huge lead in the team standings with 50 points to runner-up MacEwan's 20.

Action continues on Saturday morning (8:30 a.m.) as the 600m, 1500m and 4x400m relay races wrap up the two-day championship at the Kinsmen Field House.

AT THE LINE ... MacEwan's Scott Kohlman, the 2017 men's indoor track athlete of the year, won a bronze medal in the men's 3000m ... Skoreyko narrowly missed the bronze in the women's 3000 for a second-straight year. She was 0.06 seconds back of third in the event in 2017 and missed third by 2.15 seconds this time ... After settling for sixth in the women's 3000m, coming in more than 16 seconds slower than her seed time, Leggatt redeemed her night with a silver in the women's 1000m (1.57 behind Christopher) ... MacEwan's Reece Runco was the forgotten man in the men's 300m, sprinting in for a bronze medal in 36.56, not far back of Stephen and Cross-Trush.